Ask Kate: Business School Admissions at 35

How likely would a 35 year old Chinese guy with 7 years of work experience be enrolled by a top MBA school?

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A: The age is not the problem – you will be one of – if not the oldest – in your class, but age won’t prevent your admission.

Two main considerations:

  1. FT MBA or Executive MBA?
  2. How competitive is your candidacy?

For the most competitive FT mba programs you need to be competitive with the 24-26 year olds applying. These are kids who have bulge bracket banks/PE/consulting firms, other brand names, or killer experience behind them. (and yes there are some ordinary family ppl who get in too)

You have to be on the same kind of trajectory as these kids – and have been on it since you were 22+/-

Basically, are you crushing it in your field?

If you’re a scientist/doctor/engineer, have you published substantial papers? Have you developed multiple patentable (patented) technologies?

If you’re an artist/creative have you had shows with substantial regional impact.

If you’re an athlete have you poured all of your blood, sweat and tears into your sport? Have you earned at least national recognition?

Those are a taste of the expectations for a 35-year old applying to a Full Time MBA at a top school.
If you don’t quite fit those expectations, but you are more recently on an upward trajectory and have a very bright, well defined future, the Executive MBA at a top school may be a better fit. You’ll still need to be a very competitive candidate within your field, but the burden to prove yourself is a little bit lower.


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